Obama Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

President speaks out about devastating effects of solitary confinement

The movement to end kids being shut up in solitary confinement continues to pick up steam. As well it should.

This practice puts young people under 18 in tiny cells for 22 hours, even more, a day. They have little or no interaction with others. They often are given nothing to read or do. Too little food. They are at the mercy of guards who have no mercy. They sit there, by themselves, taking a heavy toll on their emotional well-being. Many contemplate suicide. Few come out unscathed.

And now POTUS is on board with putting an end to this practice.


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Topics: juvenile justice, solitary confinement

Inequality in the Juvenile Justice System

Posted by Lori Moore, MST Services

Disparities in the juvenile justice system start younger than you'd think, and have a staggering impact

We’d all like to believe that the scales of justice are balanced. But in the case of juvenile justice, the scales are weighted against minority kids. 

The facts and figures in this infographic show just how unequal the system is, and some of them might shock you.


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Topics: juvenile justice, juvenile justice system, MST Infographic

Prison Kids: A Crime Against America's Children Review

Posted by Jamie Bunch-Sanfilippo

A look into the experience of juvenile offenders

If you’re looking for a call to action, here it is. “Prison Kids” will inspire you to work within your community to reduce the number of kids placed in juvenile-detention centers. The documentary “Prison Kids: A Crime Against America’s Children” follows several young people who have been involved in the juvenile-justice system and explores how this has impacted them and their families.


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Topics: juvenile justice

Rethinking Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut

Posted by Lori Moore, MST Services

Raising the age

When does a kid become an adult? When do you move a violator from juvenile to adult court? In North Carolina,16-year-olds are considered adults. In other states, including Connecticut, the age is 18.

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Topics: juvenile justice, CT juvenile justice reform, juvenile justice system

Baltimore Riots. One factor: Racial Disparity in our Juvenile-Justice System

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

Baltimore burning. Disparity in the justice system. Is there a role for MST?

A young black man in confrontation with police. Another young black man dead. Last summer, it was 17-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. This month, 25-year-old Freddie Gray did not get proper medical attention as he was being transported to a Baltimore police station and later died. Looting and vandalizing broke out in Ferguson. Protests were met with police in riot gear and tear gas. In Baltimore, full-scale rioting erupted following Gray’s funeral.

While violence should not be condoned, it’s easy to see that the frustration of the black community in Baltimore had gone beyond the boiling point. Why?


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Topics: disproportionate minority contact, juvenile justice

Is Juvenile Solitary Confinement Torture?

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Juvenile Solitary Confinement—Is It Torture?

Imagine yourself 17. You’ve been convicted of armed robbery. In jail, you were caught with a shiv. In the eyes of the institution, no excuse for that. However, any viewer of the TV series “Law and Order” would know having protection might be the only way to stave off predators.solitary_picture

Now take this further. Imagine you are confined to an 8-by-10 foot cell, 23 hours a day without human contact. That’s what happened to Michael Kemp. “You just like, ‘Man, I feel like an animal in here. I don’t even feel real...where I’m not even a human being."

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Topics: rikers island,, juvenile justice

Quick Action Juvenile Justice Reforms In South Dakota

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

Update: South Dakota Moves Quickly on Juvenile Justice Reform 

Often the wheels of government turn very slowly. From the inception of an idea to passage can take years of wrangling, modifications and more wrangling before it reaches consideration in the legislature.

Such was not the case in South Dakota. Having had success with an overhaul of its adult justice system, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Chief Justice David Gilbertson were intent on improving the juvenile system. After all, it was costing $140,000 a year for each youth commitment. Annual tuition at the University of South Dakota is only $13,904. And the returns on the commitment investment were not good. Forty percent of the adolescents were back with the Department of Corrections (DOC) three years after they were released.south_dakota_legislatures

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform,, juvenile justice, Cost of youth incarceration

Ohio’s Successful Youth Incarceration Alternative Program

Posted by Patrick Kanary

New Initiatives Improve Ohio’s Juvenile Justice Outcomes

The ‘status quo’ can be a barrier to progress.  Moving out of the comfort zone can promote innovation and generate outcomes. This is especially true when it comes to juvenile justice.

Ohio recognized this when it came to reforming its juvenile-justice system. In 1993, it created RECLAIM Ohio (Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors) in an attempt to get courts to use community-based programs “to meet the needs of each juvenile offender or youth at risk of offending.” By providing funding incentives, in the first pilot year alone, it had a 42.7% drop in commitments.


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Topics: juvenile justice, Ohio

The issue that has Newt Gingrich and Van Jones walking arm in arm

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

In this era of extreme political contentiousness in the United States, it seems as if the conservatives are the conservatives, the liberals, the liberals and never the twain shall meet.

Except . . . there is one issue on which the two adversaries—or at least some of them—can agree. Criminal-justice reform.newt

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform,, juvenile justice, bipartisanship

“Burning Down the House” A chat with juvenile justice reform advocate Nell Bernstein

Posted by Dr. Gregorio Melendez

Nell Bernstein is a passionate advocate for juvenile-justice reform, author of the widely praised “Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison” and journalist who was honored with a White House “Champion of Change.” Recently, she talked with MST about a number of topics, including the reaction to the book, the role of race in the juvenile-justice system and how MST and other evidenced-based programs can be part of a comprehensive solution that addresses and changes the behaviors of juvenile offenders.


Bernstein writes in an easy-to-read style that blends facts with first-person accounts that reveal the often brutal and deadly world behind bars. The stories that can be difficult to digest at times and beggar belief at others. It is, in short, a compelling argument in favor of completely rebuilding the juvenile-prison system. When I asked Bernstein if this argument was the purpose behind writing the book, she said she did not embark on the project with the preconceived notion that incarceration was inherently wrong and that “if I had seen something other than a completely counterproductive and destructive institution, then that is what I would have wrote.” But she added that she “had written about criminal justice for years and years, seen kids destroyed by it.”   

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform,, disproportionate minority contact, juvenile justice

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